The holidays are a time to enjoy family - they can be less about stuff.

Be Balanced: This Season, Please Don't Get Me Anything

Published Date: 2019-12-03

The holidays are right around the corner, and I must admit I’ve already started picking up a few Christmas gifts for my daughter. But when it comes to me, please, don’t get me anything.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I love the festive elegance of my family’s Christmas Eve celebration and hanging out in PJs at my in-laws’ on Christmas Day. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending Christmas Day at my grandparents’ house with my cousins. And as much as I love shopping for and wrapping Christmas presents, lately, my own move toward “less” has got me rethinking this whole gift thing.

When Dave and I got married, we had two of almost everything. We also had boxes of books we’d never read, clothes we hadn’t worn in years, more cleaning and office supplies than you could shake a stick at, and furniture and decor that didn’t make sense in our new house. I’ve spent a significant amount of time and energy over the past two years streamlining, reducing, and organizing. I was never a packrat to begin with, but living in a house with limited storage space has really made me crave less.

My mom (hi, Mom!) has picked up on my desire for less stuff. She recently called to ask me if I wanted her to continue buying figurines for my nativity set. I told her no, and it’s not because I don’t love or treasure the ones I already have – I just don’t need more to be able to set up a beautiful nativity scene. My college girlfriends and I also decided to stop exchanging gifts this year. It might be because two of us just had babies, another is expecting a baby in January, and one is planning a wedding, but my guess is I’m not the only one who wants fewer things to keep track of – both as a giver and a receiver.

In our culture, there is a sense of obligation to get each other gifts for birthdays and holidays big and small. It can be stressful for the giver when they don’t know what to get, and frustrating for the recipient when they receive something that they don’t want, need, or like. I’m not much for those little gifts that we give when we want to get someone something small or we don’t know what to get them. The candles, scented hand lotion, printed water bottles, and holiday-themed fuzzy socks are well-intentioned, but ultimately extra. To me, having lots of unnecessary stuff isn’t a symbol of prosperity – it’s a symbol of excess and a creator of stress.

I’m on a mission to have less stuff, to be intentional about the things that come into my home, to make choices that support wellness and connection, and to give to those who have the greatest need. So for Christmas this year, let’s grab coffee, or get bundled up and go for a nice long walk. There are so many non-profits that do wonderful work and that could use your support a lot more than I could use a new scarf. Here are a few of my favorites: Every Mother Counts, Midwives for Haiti, Operation Warm, and Home of the Brave.

‘Tis the season to give – but let’s give each other something other than more stuff!